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Bill Jones

British and US governments are often compared and such exercises can be illuminating. This chapter offers a brief survey of the similarities and differences to point up how different systems can be while appearing so similar on the surface. The similarities include free enterprise system and worldwide trade, Christianity and English language, democratic constitution, bicameral legislatures, executives answerable to legislatures, essentially a two-party system, and open elections. The key areas of difference are American exceptionalism, the US being a unified country formed from an amalgam of different immigrant groups, and the size of the economies. In the area of social comparison, income inequality and wealth distribution inequality are more pronounced in the US than in Britain. The chapter also compares the US Constitutions with the unwritten British constitution, the separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary, and the federal and unitary systems of governance.

in British politics today
The essentials
Series: Politics Today
Author: Bill Jones

'Politics' with a big 'P' is concerned with how we, individuals and groups, relate to the state. This book commences with a definition of political activity with a focus on conflict, and government and democracy. Britain is, arguably, the oldest democracy in the world, though it took many centuries for it to evolve into its current 'representative' form. Conflict resolution depends on the political system involved. The book draws together all the elements of government, explaining the British system of governance, which is democracy but utilises representatives. Civil service advises ministers and carries out the day- to-day running of government. The book then describes the transformation of the British system of governance from an absolute monarchy to a representative democracy. It examines how economic changes have affected Britain over the centuries, and presents some thoughts on the absence of a modern British revolution. It presents an account of Britain's economic history, the class developments and differences, and the absence of a modern revolution despite astonishing levels of income inequality. Factors that might influence the political culture of Britain are discussed next. The book also touches upon the sources of British constitution, the process of constitutional amendments prevailing in the U.S. and Britain, current British politics, and the development of pressure groups in Britain. Finally, the history of party government in Britain, and details of the Conservative Party, Labour Party, the Social and Liberal Democrats, House of Commons, and Britain's international relations are discussed.

Bill Jones

Britain has an written constitution, which is in the form of Acts of Parliament relating to, for example, who can vote. Constitutional matters featured much in the nineteenth century and the early twentieth but then lay quiescent until the 1990s, when they topped the political agenda once again. Parliament is at the peak of the constitution and, the House of Commons is the dominant element of it. This chapter briefly discusses the sources of British constitution such as the normal and super statutes, case law, common law, conventions and institutional rules. It outlines the process of constitutional amendments prevailing in the U.S. and Britain, separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary, and the core and contested elements of the constitution. The constitutional issues such as the pressure for codification of the uncertain aspects of the constitution are also discussed.

in British politics today
Abstract only
Mobilising power in Russia
Andrew Monaghan

This chapter discusses four points regarding Russian grand strategy. First, the Russian leadership has a strategic agenda. A structured process, with the Security Council at its heart, has taken shape from the mid- 2000s, resulting in the overhaul of Moscow's strategic planning. Second, Russian grand strategy does not lie in Moscow's goals or even its agenda, but in its execution. Third, the assumptions that influence strategic thinking and planning. Fourth, transformation of the Russian political and security landscape as new organisations have been established, including Rosgvardia, the All Russian Popular Front and the National Defense Management Center. Generating grand strategy is always difficult, but Moscow's attempt is purposeful, security focused, and proving successful in some areas. By the 2020s, there will still be a balance between Russian strength and weakness, but the results of mobilisation will mean that Russia will pose a very different proposition to the Euro-Atlantic community.

in Power in modern Russia
Abstract only
Andrew Monaghan

Mobilisation is associated both with modernisation of the armed forces and security of the nation and, related to that, readiness to face challenges as the leadership seeks to establish the kind of force structures required to resolve weaknesses and maximise advantages. This chapter discusses the ongoing debate in the Russian armed forces about structure, particularly the need for large armies in modern war and the difficulty of economically sustaining them. The Russian armed forces are undergoing an intensive period of reform and re-equipment. Following the Russo- Georgia war in 2008, the Russian leadership instigated what Mikhail Barabanov has called the 'most radical military reform since the creation of the Red Army following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution'. Alongside the reform, re-equipment and establishment of new structures, many thousands of exercises have been conducted. These have taken three main forms: civil defence and emergency management, policing and military.

in Power in modern Russia
Bill Jones

Politics' with a big 'P' is concerned with how we, individuals and groups, relate to the state. This chapter defines political activity with a focus on political conflict, government and democracy. Conflict resolution depends on the political system involved. Autocratic governments seek to repress dissent and impose settlements, irrespective of the desires and interests of those involved. Government always works best when citizens have been properly prepared. The ban on smoking in indoor public places from 2007 is a good example of effective preparation, as it seems to have been accepted more or less without serious complaint. The chapter also lists the conditions necessary for representative democracy. Two such conditions are: full adult franchise - everyone must have the vote; and secret ballot - to ensure voters are not coerced or influenced, as used to be commonplace in Britain in earlier times.

in British politics today
Abstract only
Bill Jones

It is often forgotten that the origins of nationalism in the constituent parts of the UK date back to when they were independent political entities. This chapter deals with the rise of Scottish nationalism and Irish nationalism. It discusses the devolution of powers after 1997. Major figures including John Smith, Robin Cook, Gordon Brown and Donald Dewar, were convinced of the need for devolution and the enabling Acts were duly passed with respect to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The chapter lists the problems that had been highlighted as a result of Labour's constitutional changes including the West Lothian question, cabinet responsibility, and proportional representation. One form of national feeling among the English people is reflected in attitudes to the disproportionate shares of public expenditure Scotland and Wales receive compared with England. The chapter also discusses the devolution to the Greater London government and the impact of constitutional devolution.

in British politics today
Bill Jones

It is no secret that the British have not taken too warmly to Europe, since we joined the European Community in 1972. This chapter sketches the major changes the European Community membership has had for Britain and for its politics. It presents the historical, geographical and cultural factors contributing to the separateness of Britain. After the end of World War II, there was a need for the continental European countries to recover economically and contain the external threats; the Marshall Plan and the NATO provided the answers. The chapter briefly describes the British applications to join the European Community, and provides information on the various European institutions such as the European Commission, European Council, and the European Parliament. It also discusses the three pillars of cooperation: economic, foreign affairs and security, and justice and home affairs. The chapter also examines the reform process initiated by the 2007 Lisbon Treaty.

in British politics today
Abstract only
Cabinet, Prime Minister and the ‘core executive’
Bill Jones

Prime Minister and Cabinet, as key features of British government, emerged around the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. To some extent the roles of Prime Minister and Cabinet, both at the very centre of major decisions, have been in conflict. This chapter examines the executive powers of the cabinet, and discusses the aspects of size and composition, collective responsibility, and cabinet functions, among others. It lists the factors because of which the office of Prime Minister gathered much power in the twentieth century. The Prime Minister has a variety of roles to perform such as being the head of the executive, chief policy-maker, party leader, and senior UK representative. The chapter presents the contrasting working styles of various postwar Prime Ministers such as Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher. The core executive comprises a collection of policy-making units and 'actors' at the centre of government.

in British politics today
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Ministers and the civil service
Bill Jones

While Cabinet members discuss matters of high policy, back in their departments they deal with more bread-and-butter matters. Cabinet ministers usually have a team of junior ministers to assist them and all ministers have usually one or two advisers plus armies of civil servants. Philip Norton has discerned five types of senior ministers, based on a 2000 study: team player, commander, ideologue, manager and agent. It is a fundamental of the British constitution that ministers are individually responsible to Parliament for the work of their department. This chapter discusses the Northcote-Trevelyan report of 1854 which advocated a politically neutral service, the Fulton Report of 1968, and the reforms undertaken during the Thatcher era. Advisers to premiers and ministers have always existed in one form or another, but began to be appointed more frequently during the 1970s. Many of them entered politics as researchers to politicians or were childhood friends.

in British politics today